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UN expert group on mercenaries to visit Austria

VIENNA/GENEVA (20 June 2018) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will undertake its first visit to Austria from 21 to 29 June 2018. 

The delegation composed of Gabor Rona, Chairperson of the Group, and fellow member Saeed Mokbil, will be in the country to assess the regulatory framework for private military and security companies and the human rights impact of these companies. 

The delegation will also study the human rights impact of mercenary-related activities including foreign fighters, focusing on issues that include recruitment practices and the motivational factors that prompt individuals to travel abroad and engage in conflict. 

The experts aim to gather information on both the challenges faced by the Austrian authorities and positive practices that have been implemented in relation to these issues. 

The Working Group will hold meetings in Vienna and Styria with State representatives, members of civil society and non-governmental organisations. 

The delegation will share its preliminary observations at a press conference on Friday, 29 June 2018 at 11:30 am local time in Conference Room C6, at the Vienna International Centre. Access to the news conference is strictly limited to journalists.* 

The Working Group will present its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019.

ENDS

* Media representatives who wish to attend the event, and who are not accredited to the VIC, should write to press.unvienna@un.org. Access to the M-Building is via Gate One of the Vienna International Centre. 

The Working Group on the use of mercenariesas a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. Its mandate was further extended by the Human Rights Council in 2008. The Group is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world. The Chairperson-Rapporteur is Mr. Gabor Rona (United States of America). Other members are Mr. Saeed Mokbil (Yemen) Ms. Lilian Bobea (Dominican Republic), Mr. Chris Kwaja (Nigeria), and Ms. Jelena Aparac (Croatia).

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

In Vienna:
Ms. Sonja Wintersberger, UNIS, (+431) 260603430/ sonja.wintersberger@un.org
Ms. Jolene Tautakitaki, OHCHR (+41 79 752 0486/ jtautakitaki@ohchr.org)

In Geneva:
Ms. Alice Ochsenbein (+41 22 917 9804 / aochsenbein@ohchr.org)
Alternatively, you can write to mercenaries@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383/ jlaurence@ohchr.org)  

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